Chicken and Dumplings. Those very words take me back to my childhood, sitting in my great-grandma’s kitchen as she rolled out dumplings for our supper. I close my eyes and I am transported back into that sweet little farmhouse kitchen with all of those delicious smells that only a true Southern woman could prepare with such finesse and flair. The feast would rival any restaurant I had ever been to and her secrets to great dishes like chicken and dumplings or her famous biscuits would yield only the words, “A little of this and a little of that.” No measurements, yet it turned out every time.
This New Year’s Day I decided to try to make chicken and dumplings for my family. New Year’s Day always makes me a little reflective.
What have I done?
What could I do better?
Who do I hope to be?
I decided to work out my New Year’s issues in the kitchen.
I lack my great-grandma’s instincts when it comes to baking, but I mixed, I cut, I rolled, I shredded. I would wipe a tear as I thought about how special she was to us, how much I miss her, how proud I thought she would be if she knew I was trying to make her dish in my kitchen, and who her grandchildren are becoming.
I didn’t think anyone else in our family would like what I was creating. My kids have never tasted chicken & dumplings before. My husband looked scared when he saw the mess. Frankly, he looked really scared when I dished the bowls. In the words that only my eloquent Emily could pull forth, “That sure smells yummy, but it sure looks yucky.” No, this dish was all for me. All for her..
I dove in.
It wasn’t as perfect as Ma’s, but it was as close as this Midwest girl could create. It made my heart happy.
Richly satisfying, full of chicken flavor, delicious dumplings. It is a stick-to-your ribs taste that makes you full, happy, and groggy all at the same time.
The whole family scraped their bowls clean and even had seconds.
My kids have asked for it every day since we have had it. I am not my great-grandma though and can only gather the energy to do this once in awhile. I do think though that I have found my new New Year’s Day tradition. Each year, I will reflect on life while making dumplings for my kids.
I hope my great-grandma is proud of her grandaughter even though she had to find a recipe on the internet that would fail to compare to her delicious goodness.
Chicken and Dumplings
For the chicken
1 large fryer chicken, neck and gizzards removed
1 onion, cut in half and peeled
3 carrots, cut into large pieces
3 stalks of celery, cut into large pieces
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
For the dumplings
3 cups cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon table salt
4 1/2 tablespoons shortening
1 cup milk (or just enough to make the dough stick together)
For the chicken
Place the chicken, onions, carrots, and celery in a large stock pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat so water maintains a gentle simmer. Cook chicken for approximately 1 hour or until chicken is cooked through (approximately165 degrees).
Once chicken is cooked, remove from the broth and allow to cool. Remove chicken from the bone and shred into medium-sized pieces, discarding bones and skin for another use. Pour the chicken broth through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheese cloth, discarding vegetables. Reserve 6 cups of the broth for the dumplings (the rest can be used for another time).
For the dumplings
Mix flour, baking soda, and salt together in bowl. Cut shortening into flour mixture with fingertips until it resembles small peas. Add milk — 1/4 cup at a time — and stir until a ball of dough just begins to form, being careful not to over-mix. Roll out the dough onto floured surface, about ¼ inch thick. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut dough into rectangles or squares. Place strips on wax paper and allow to harden up a little, approximately 30 minutes.
Over medium-low heat, bring broth to a gentle simmer and drop in dumplings. Cover and allow to cook for 6-7 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add chicken. Allow to cook until thickened, approximately 15-20 minutes, or longer. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Serving Size: 6-8
Source: The Kitchn